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New plan to make Place Flagey less grey, more green

10:36 06/01/2022

Brussels’ Place Flagey will be getting a green makeover to counteract the urban heat island effect and allow better drainage of rainwater.

The existing plaza is a popular place to gather, with regular activities including a visiting circus and a weekly market, but it is mostly concrete and the lack of shade contributes to higher temperatures, especially in the summer. 

A winning project from design offices Kollektif Landscape and Fallow seeks to transform the space into something both greener and less prone to flooding.

“The new Flagey square was inaugurated in 2008 after six years of work,” said Yves Rouyet (Ecolo), Ixelles alderman for town planning. 

“Today, it is not a matter of questioning this layout or carrying out major works. What we do want to do is to be innovative by making the square greener through smart, quick interventions without major works. This fits in with the original landscape project.”

Sixty additional trees are planned for the plaza. The central open space on Place Flagey and the adjoining Place Sainte-Croix will remain, but the peripheral areas will be filled with more greenery. The additional plants will increase biodiversity, cool down the space and help absorb rainwater.  

“Underneath Place Flagey there is a car park and a storm basin. Together with the existing utility pipes, this leaves little room for planting,” landscape architect Björn Bracke of Kollektif Landscape told Bruzz, citing a major challenge in coming up with a plan for improving the plaza. 

The trees already in the plaza have grown little as a result of the shallow soil, and a study will be carried out in order to determine what can be done to improve conditions for them. On Place Sainte-Croix, which will also get a makeover, the soil is deep enough to facilitate additional trees without anticipated issues. 

Kollektif Landscape and Fallow plan to apply for the required building permits before the end of the year, with work to begin in 2023. 

Written by Helen Lyons